Robinson vet’s fest finds new home in Meridian

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Moonlight Music Festival

By Regina Dennis

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Sunday January 1, 2012

A Robinson Marine found a home for his joint music festival and veterans fundraiser, but he had to move the show to a neighboring county.

Caleb Duty, an Iraq war veteran, will hold the Moonlight Music Festival at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian, about 45 miles from Waco, during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to a residential therapy program for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as to local veterans’ support groups, Duty said.

Caleb Duty’s original proposal to host a festival on his family’s Robinson property met fierce resistance from neighbors.

He originally wanted to host the festival and fundraiser at his family’s 121-acre homestead in Robinson. But the idea drew sharp opposition from his neighbors on Hilltop Drive, who were concerned about noise, trash dumping, increased traffic along the winding road, and police and fire protection during the festival.

Robinson City Council in November voted down a permit to allow the festival, and potentially other community events during the next five years.

Soon after the council’s decision, Bosque County Judge Cole Word contacted Duty and invited him to consider Bosque Bottoms Park for the event.

“I really just want to let everybody know that I found a new spot, and I’m appreciative of Meridian for inviting me,” Duty said.

“It’s been nothing but open arms since I’ve been there. People have just been happy to help.”

Meridian is no stranger to music festivals. The town was home to an annual fest more than a decade ago that was produced by Larry Joe Taylor, who also runs the Texas Music Festival in Stephenville that inspired Duty’s plans.

“It’s weird having to go outsource to a different county to make this work,” he said. “But a place that wants something like this and used to have something like this, I’ll work there with them until my neighbors (embrace the idea).”

Raise awareness

Mary Duty, Caleb’s mother and president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America, said she is glad to see her son continue pushing for the festival. She hopes it will help raise awareness about PTSD and the challenges veterans face when they return from war.

“It’s a matter of explaining to people what you’re trying to do, and then the people show up,” Mary Duty said. “It’s a good cause, and if the cause is pure and the motives are good, you’ll never go wrong.”

Caleb Duty is holding a press conference Tuesday at the park to announce performers for the event. He already has started working with Meridian Police Officer Chris Blanton, who is helping coordinate sheriff, fire and emergency medical responders. They also visited with Meridian city staff, the chamber of commerce and other leaders to make sure the festival doesn’t create a burden for the town.

Duty plans to donate funds to the city of Meridian, just as he had intended to contribute to Robinson’s police and fire departments.

Duty said there’s no love lost for his neighbors and Robinson city officials about the permit decision. While he wishes he would have been able to use his own land for the festival, he said he’s simply happy to have a venue for it.

If Meridian residents are pleased with the festival’s execution, Duty plans to make Bosque Bottoms Park the permanent home for the Moonlight Music Festival. But he hasn’t ruled out appealing to Robinson again for a different event on his land.

“If they enjoy it, it’ll stay there,” Caleb Duty said. “I would love to one day in the future run two events, the original one I wanted to do at my house, and then keep Meridian’s event shaped and small enough that the town still loves it and appreciates it.”

rdennis@wacotrib.com

757-5755
By Regina Dennis

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Sunday January 1, 2012

A Robinson Marine found a home for his joint music festival and veterans fundraiser, but he had to move the show to a neighboring county.

Caleb Duty, an Iraq war veteran, will hold the Moonlight Music Festival at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian, about 45 miles from Waco, during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to a residential therapy program for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as to local veterans’ support groups, Duty said.

Caleb Duty’s original proposal to host a festival on his family’s Robinson property met fierce resistance from neighbors.

He originally wanted to host the festival and fundraiser at his family’s 121-acre homestead in Robinson. But the idea drew sharp opposition from his neighbors on Hilltop Drive, who were concerned about noise, trash dumping, increased traffic along the winding road, and police and fire protection during the festival.

Robinson City Council in November voted down a permit to allow the festival, and potentially other community events during the next five years.

Soon after the council’s decision, Bosque County Judge Cole Word contacted Duty and invited him to consider Bosque Bottoms Park for the event.

“I really just want to let everybody know that I found a new spot, and I’m appreciative of Meridian for inviting me,” Duty said.

“It’s been nothing but open arms since I’ve been there. People have just been happy to help.”

Meridian is no stranger to music festivals. The town was home to an annual fest more than a decade ago that was produced by Larry Joe Taylor, who also runs the Texas Music Festival in Stephenville that inspired Duty’s plans.

“It’s weird having to go outsource to a different county to make this work,” he said. “But a place that wants something like this and used to have something like this, I’ll work there with them until my neighbors (embrace the idea).”

Raise awareness

Mary Duty, Caleb’s mother and president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America, said she is glad to see her son continue pushing for the festival. She hopes it will help raise awareness about PTSD and the challenges veterans face when they return from war.

“It’s a matter of explaining to people what you’re trying to do, and then the people show up,” Mary Duty said. “It’s a good cause, and if the cause is pure and the motives are good, you’ll never go wrong.”

Caleb Duty is holding a press conference Tuesday at the park to announce performers for the event. He already has started working with Meridian Police Officer Chris Blanton, who is helping coordinate sheriff, fire and emergency medical responders. They also visited with Meridian city staff, the chamber of commerce and other leaders to make sure the festival doesn’t create a burden for the town.

Duty plans to donate funds to the city of Meridian, just as he had intended to contribute to Robinson’s police and fire departments.

Duty said there’s no love lost for his neighbors and Robinson city officials about the permit decision. While he wishes he would have been able to use his own land for the festival, he said he’s simply happy to have a venue for it.

If Meridian residents are pleased with the festival’s execution, Duty plans to make Bosque Bottoms Park the permanent home for the Moonlight Music Festival. But he hasn’t ruled out appealing to Robinson again for a different event on his land.

“If they enjoy it, it’ll stay there,” Caleb Duty said. “I would love to one day in the future run two events, the original one I wanted to do at my house, and then keep Meridian’s event shaped and small enough that the town still loves it and appreciates it.”

rdennis@wacotrib.com

757-5755

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